Opinion

Pinching plenty of petrol pennies on the Piglet

"Well boys, another day over. Time to go kill some bugs with my face.”

I put my helmet, gloves and shades on and mounted up, but I didn’t roar from work in Parksville to home in Qualicum Bay. My ride doesn’t do that. It buzzes. It humms. It whizzes.

A scene from Easy Rider it was not and Peter Fonda I’m not.  My old Tomos 49 cc scooter is no Harley hog, that’s for sure — more like a piglet. The bungied down yellow milk crate I use for a trunk doesn’t add to the romance, either, unless one finds mystique in crazy-old-coot-mobiles. 

That scooter may not look like much, but it pops along at 50 kilometres per hour on a flat stretch — 60 going downhill. It may take a few more minutes to get to where I’m going, but when I get there, I’ve usually got a great big grin on my face.

It took me a while to screw up my courage to do my first big commute. I had too many visions of concerned faces staring down at me as I was spatula-ed off the pavement. 

Was this really possible?

The answer is yes. It is, and more people should be doing it.

As I rode along on my first day, I couldn’t help but notice just how much extra metal and other bulk was passing me — most of which contained a driver and little else.

Most of these vehicles were bright, shiny, sparkling SUVs and while they failed to impress me with their status, they did make me wonder how much they were shelling out for gas and how much their monthly payments were. Many of those highway tanks were going to the same general area as me and I was going to get there with far less expense. 

How cheap? Well, the Piglet is paid for — all $700 worth. That’s just the financial appetizer though. The entree came on the second morning, when I went to top up after a full day of racing from assignment to assignment.

When driving my van I would have thrown $20 into the tank without even thinking. This time though, when I handed the gas jockey my debit card I had a different message.

“Two dollars of your cheapest, my good man,” I said.

“Really? Just two bucks?”

“Well ... hopefully,” I replied.

I was wrong. I couldn’t fit it all in and get this: he had to give me 30 cents change!

So that works out to roughly a tenth of my usual cost or, to put it another way, I am paying the equivalent of just under 13 cents per litre — and I’m having a great time doing it.

I don’t have to worry about speed traps anymore either. I just laugh and wave. The only speed limit I really have to worry about is going downhill on Memorial. Then, yes, I have to put on the brakes. Oh ya baby! Born to be wild!

Cell phones while driving? No temptation there. Simply impossible.

The way I see it, we are all going to have to make some changes in the way we do things if we are going to thrive as a society and as a species, so why not make a change that’s actually fun?

Life in the slow lane: it’s not that bad. Join me. It’s a gas!

Neil Horner is the associate editor of the Parksville Qualicum Beach News and a regular columnist

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